50 bird flu deaths reported from Sambhar lake after Jodhpur and Pali

Rajasthan animal husbandry secretary Dr Arushi Malik said all bird deaths, 54 in five days in Sambhar lake, have been attributed to avian influenza
An alert has been issued across wetlands in Rajasthan to scan for sudden deaths of birds because of bird flu infection, which, officials believe, has been brought by migratory birds from Central Asia.
An alert has been issued across wetlands in Rajasthan to scan for sudden deaths of birds because of bird flu infection, which, officials believe, has been brought by migratory birds from Central Asia.
Published on Nov 24, 2021 01:44 AM IST
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BySachin Saini

Jaipur: Over 50 birds, mostly crows, have died due to bird flu in India’s biggest inland salt lake in Sambhar lake in Rajasthan’s Jaipur district in the past five days, forest department officials said on Monday, adding that it was third place in the state to report bird flu deaths since November 1.

Before Sambhar lake, deathsof 300 demoiselle cranes were reported from Kaparda area in Jodhpur and Sardarsmand lake area in Pali district of the state. No presence of bird flu in poultry has been reported by the state, officials said.

Bird flu, or avian flu, is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. Scientists have confirmed the infection is transmissible from birds to humans, although such a risk is currently low.

According to forest department officials, an alert has been issued across wetlands in the state to scan for sudden deaths of birds because of the flu, which, officials believe, have been brought by migratory birds from Central Asia.

Between December 2019 and January 2020, close to 24,500 birds died in at least five states because of bird flu brought by birds travelling through the Central Asia bird migratory route.

Bhopal-based National Institute of High-Security Animal Disease (NIHSAD), the lab accredited to confirm bird flu, has detected two strains of influenza viruses in the dead birds. H5N8, a sub-type of avian influenza found in poultry and wild animals, was found in crows in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh while H5N1 was found in ducks in Kerala and migratory birds in Himachal Pradesh.

Rajasthan animal husbandry secretary Dr Arushi Malik said the Bhopal-based institute has confirmed the presence of H5N1 avian influenza virus, which in 2019-20 was found in ducks in Kerala. Officials said the strain is commonly found in migratory birds and the infection may have been transmitted from them to the crows.

“All bird deaths were due to avian influenza,” she said.

“Fogging has been done in the surrounding areas and the nearest departmental institutions have been alerted,” he added.

Malik said 7 birds including 5 crows and a Myna and Rufus trippy were found dead in the Sambhar area in Jaipur district yesterday. Four samples of crows found dead were sent to the Bhopal lab, which confirmed the presence of H5N1 avian influenza virus.

According to officials, the first deaths among birds were reported on November 5 when close to 300 demoiselle cranes were found dead in Kaparda area in Jodhpur. A week later, more crane deaths were reported from Sardarsmand lake area in Pali district, 30 km from Kaparda, which gets demoiselle cranes from Central Asia.

“In both places, the cause of death was bird flu,” Dr Malik said.

The animal husbandry department has set up control rooms at the state level and formed Rapid Response Teams in all the districts to control bird flu.

Dr Malik said bird flu disease has not been seen in the poultry business so far. “We have appealed to poultry farmers to keep the bird enclosures clean and inform the department immediately if dead birds are seen on the roofs or around their houses,” she said.

On Monday, additional director of the department of animal husbandry, Anand Sejara said only two bird deaths were reported from Sambhar Lake, where close to 18,000 birds died due to avian botulism in November 2019. Avian botulism is a neuromuscular illness of birds.

Experts said the presence of H5N1 influenza doesn’t necessarily mean that cause of death is bird flu.

“The lab report should be correlated with clinical science and post mortem lesion,” microbiologist Dr AK Kataria said.

He said bird flu affects the respiratory system, high temperature and also paralysis are the symptoms. Kataria said the death of crows was an annual feature and could also be linked to a sudden drop in temperature.

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Sunday, December 05, 2021